From a tillage standpoint, “conventional beans aren’t a lot different than with Roundup Ready. I’ve done it every way -- conventional till, no-till. I have not used beds since they’re hard to build on our farm.”

As for seeding rates, drills have changed a lot since Sitzer was back in high school. “But it’s still about making a trench and covering up the seed. One of the things that got me interested in conventional beans was this: on marginal fields with a rough seed bed am I better off planting at a high seeding rate?”

The best way to afford that is to use a university variety and keep your own seed, Sitzer suggested. “That way, your cost is basically market price and $2 or $3 for cleaning, storage, bagging, insurance, whatever.

“So, in adverse conditions, I can plant up to a bushel-and-a-half, at times. That’s a big advantage: keep your own seed.”

Last year, despite such poor planting conditions, the Sitzer operation still got a stand. “The seeding rate was probably 85 to 90 pounds of seed per acre on 15-inch rows. Get that much seed, that close together, and you’ll have a shot at it pushing out even in bad conditions.”

What about Sitzer’s herbicide program for conventional beans?

“You can do the same burndown used on any other crop. We didn’t get that done in 2013 so we had a PPI treatment where we could -- Dual, Treflan. We still use Scepter if we need something to pick up morning-glories. Then, we’ll come back with Select and Reflex or Flexstar.

“However, last year, we were so late on some of the fields that we reached the plant-back window for rice. So, we had to use other products -- Classic or Blazer.”

What are some of the advantages of conventional soybeans?

“I play with the numbers in many ways. Basically, the seed costs savings average about $50 to $55 per acre versus a normal seeding rate of a Roundup Ready with a seed treatment.”

There are premiums available for conventionals. “I have gotten them. Some years I do, some I don’t. I don’t plan for them. The beans go right into the market chain.

“Premiums vary. If you’re close to the river and you don’t mind storing them until after harvest, ADM has a premium market nearly every year. But you must store them. And I’m far enough away that the time value and transportation kind of eats into the bonus.”

Saving seed “is a big deal and provides flexibility, particularly with seeding rates. You can keep more seed than you think you’ll need. So, if I get into a replant situation, there can be enough seed to assure a good replanting of the same variety.

“I recommend you definitely get your seed tested for germ and accelerated aging. You need to know what’s under your control.”

It is true that when planting conventional varieties you have to worry about drift, “especially if the field is out there all by itself. Last year, on top of everything else that went wrong, we got some Roundup on our beans. Everyone did everything right -- except the loader truck didn’t flush the line. We ended up getting about two ounces per acre.”